South Carolina man Leroy Harley recently graduated with a master’s degree from the University Of South Carolina (USC) at age 71.
Harley, a Bowman native, graduated from USC on May 7 after completing his master’s in teaching. He previously decided to pursue higher education at age 69.
“I [am] really proud of myself. I mean, I have to be,” he told WLTX.
Harley returned to Bowman after moving multiple times in 1993. During that time, he spent time with his mother, who advised him to work at Bethune-Bowman Elementary, where he was eventually hired as a teacher’s aide.
“I immediately got interested in teaching. Like, I say, if it’s something new, I am going to try it and see where it takes me,” he said to the news outlet.
Years later, Harley headed back to college to pursue his teaching degree.
“I thought, ‘Why am I going back to school at this age? I should be sorta coasting into retirement, but I went on and did it anyhow,” he said.
Thankfully, his family was very supportive of his choice, including his sister, Patsy Rhett.
“I am elated at the fact that Lee, after all these years, decided to follow his heart,” Rhett told reporters. “He has. Education has always been a strong part of his life.”
Just four days after achieving his academic goal, the South Carolina man shared some encouraging words to those who would consider changing their careers.
“I say go ahead and do it, I mean, because you bring a lot to the table, OK?” he insisted.
He added that switching careers could be challenging for others since there would be a lot to learn, but it could still be done.
“There’s a lot you have to learn at the table, but you bring a lot to the table,” he said.